Race Is Real
Race Is Real
In society, people socially construct institution based on sensory perception. Race is in fact a social construct made from systems of constitutive rules. It is used to generalize people into specific groups characterized by supposedly distinctive and universal physical characteristics. Although humans have created this entity, there are many sources that provide proof that race is impossible to define biologically. Since colonization began, humans have been given racial identities which continue to cause uproar in nations and states. People simply assuming the existence of race makes it real.
Despite this, the assumption of the existence of race does not make it valid. Race cannot be objectively specified, and it should be seen as a whole. There is only one human race. D’Andrade classifies a constitutive rule as “an entity created by the social agreement that something counts as that entity” (91). A simple understanding of a constitutive rule is a rule that exists only because society believes in it, and adheres to it. Marriage is a clear example of how constitutive rules create a social entity; it exists solely on the fact that a culture agrees that it exists, and agrees on the general guidelines in which it exists.
Generally speaking, constitutive rules rely on people’s adherence and shared thoughts to exist. D’Andrade explains the differences between constitutive and regulative rules. Regulative rules are those which provide guidelines and restrictions for existing forms of behavior. A regulative rule is not involved with the creation or elimination of an entity, whereas a constitutive rule does exactly that through social agreement. D’Andrade said that “Institutions are systems of constitutive rules. Every institutional fact is underlain by a system of rules of the form ? X counts as Y in context C'” (91).
In this formula, X is the ideas that a culture believes in, Y represents the institutions and rules that those ideas count as, and C is the specific situation or culture. Constitutive rules define situations and/or subjects that have an effect on the reactions which come from the situation itself. The entity of family is an example of this. The systems of ideas that make up what we consider family are constitutive rules. Families can be classified into different categories including immediate and biological families, teams/teammates, religious groups, organizations and/or clubs.
In this example, C is considered the American culture and the different ideas of what makes up a family is X. Although many believe family to be biological, even the boundaries of that can be argued. The considerations of family types are indistinguishable throughout the world. Those involved within families, especially close immediate families tend to pursue and enjoy a contented lifestyle. Many families strive to be involved with those within the family and help out one another. This positive involvement can also be seen within a team or organization of some sort that may grow to call themselves a family.
Since it is socially constructed, the exact definition of family is hard to create and so all these groups may be considered family. Although a family is usually viewed as a positive aspect in one’s life, just like other constitutive rules, they are overlooked because they are too involved within the cultural aspect. After extensive research, it has been proven that race cannot be biologically defined. In general, people categorize people within a certain race depending mainly on their skin color, the construction of their eyes and even the color of one’s hair.
These characteristics are arbitrary. In attempts to prove this, Jared Diamond wrote the article “Race without Color. ” He arbitrarily chooses the gene that causes sickle-cell anemia. By using this way to classify people, Greeks, Thai and New Guineans would be put together as once race, and some Africans and Norwegians in another racial group (84). Classifying people into certain races is not biologically acceptable or possible to do objectively. It only creates views about others through our own eye, and leads to subconscious differentiation and discrimination.
However, it is common today for people to use race as a simple way to categorize people. Considering all of the different classifications, Diamond, along with many anthropologists suggests, “one cannot recognize any human races at all. ” It is given through anthropologists’ studies that rules that separate races from one another are constitutive rules. A socially constructed institution is only possible through the thoughts and ideas of those within a society.
Race continues to be one of these examples, although it is known through facts and research that race is not properly appraised. In American culture every one has been subjected to the question of their race at one point or another. While taking exams or signing up for SATs here in America, people are questioned about their racial back rounds. This shows that race is real.
Another example is seen in “Hotel Rwanda. ” In the film, although the Hutus and Tutsis are from the same nation and seem physically identical to one another, there was bloodshed amongst these two races because of socially constructed identities. Race has evolved as a worldview and system of perspective.
Race creates a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about differences between humans. The simple existence of two races in Rwanda made it so that the groups of people perceived differences and problems between them. Regardless of ideas and falsely created identities, race is real and should be viewed as a whole. A great example of the reality and issues of race within our society date back to the Rodney Glen King incident which took place in Los Angeles in 1991. During the month of March, Rodney King led police on a high speed pursuit though red lights and stop signs.
After eventually stopping, police proceeded towards the car and threw King to the ground. The police officers claim he resisted arrest and was continuously stuck with batons, tackled and even tasered. George Holiday, a private citizen video taped this incident from his apartment, creating an international media sensation. In 1992, the officers were acquitted by a jury. The acquittal was based in part on a 13-second segment of the video tape. The jury verdict created massive rioting in LA for four days.
By the time order was able to be restored, an estimated $1 billion in damage, with “55 deaths; 2,383 injuries; more than 7000 fire responses; 3,100 businesses damaged” (Smith, Anna Deavere). Smaller riots ensued in other U. S. cities. After the riots occurred, federal charges of civil rights violations were brought up against the officers. Two of the officers were found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison, while the other two were acquitted. During the acts of violence and riots, King had appeared in public in front of news cameras stating, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?
” (Keyes. 1992) Although these acts of racial incidents occurred, in the midst of it, the one who was beaten stepped out and asked for peace and camaraderie amongst all. As described earlier, there was uproar across the country as people believed that the police involved in the attacks were initially not persecuted because racial factors. As seen in King’s quote, it is evident that he spoke in respect to racial neutrality while asking if everyone can get along. He was able to show that race is real in that simple quote. He referred to “we” as people living within this world, making them seem as a whole, as one race.
As observed through this case and many others, including the most recent Jena 6 trial, race is still a factor for individuals and groups. Yet race still remains impossible to define and use. Race fits the anthropological formula for constitutive rules, “X counts as Y in context C. ” Race, seen as a biological entity, is in fact a social construct made from systems of constitutive rules and is used to generalize people into certain groups. Although society views race as separate divisions among people, through scientific knowledge it is clear that human populations are not categorical, biologically distinct groups.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 December 2016
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